Home for Midland K-12
Pastor Jim Martin is the pastor of the New Life Church in Olathe, and last year also served as our school chaplain. He provides us with a devotional thought on a regular basis. Pastor Martin, we're glad to reserve this spot for you on our website!
Sixty Hours of Horror
Okene was working as a cook on a tugboat near the coast of Nigeria. The tug was supporting an oil tanker while it was being loaded in the Atlantic, because the ocean swells were quite high. At about 4:30 in the morning Okene was in the toilet while the boat began to roll over and water began pouring in. He forced open the steel door to see water rushing down the hallway. Okene and three other sailors linked arms trying to navigate to the escape hatch, but one by one they were swept away by the force of the ocean water. Okene knew that they were all going to die. But he ended up at the other end of the corridor in a four foot by four foot room, which was the officer’s toilet, at the other end of the corridor. He was alive and breathing! The boat had settled upside down on the bottom of the ocean. Inside that small room was an air pocket where Okene could breathe. There he stood on the lavatory in utter darkness with the cold ocean lapping up all around him. Okene prayed desperately that he would be saved. It was the darkest, coldest place he had ever been in his life. After all, he was at the bottom of the ocean.
Okene was not alone. The smell of dead sailors was getting to him now and he could hear the sound of the fish tearing at their flesh. It was Horror! He just knew that he would be next on the menu. This motivated Okene to pray. Eventually he swam down and pulled some paneling off the walls of the officer’s room next door. The paneling made a small raft that would help him out of the cold water. In Okene’s refuge, the water kept rising while the air pocket was diminishing. Okene was lonely at the bottom of the ocean. It was dark and smelly, add the sounds of fish eating his comrades made it as nearly hopeless as anything could be, but Okene could pray.
At one point the cook heard hammering on the side of the boat. With a glimmer of hope, he swam down dismantled a water cooler and with the filter he began banging on the side of the ship. The hammering from outside stopped. He waited in complete darkness. Soon there was a small light in the passageway outside his refuge. It was at this point that Okene swam down and touched the diver on the shoulder, which nearly startled the rescuer out of his skin! He was rescued!
Okene spent 60 hours under the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, 30 meters down. Of the twelve crew members, eleven were found; he was the only survivor. He spent another 60 hours inside a decompression chamber so that his body pressure could return to normal. His skin was sloughing off from the exposure to the salt water, even the skin on his tongue was peeling. “I don’t know what stopped the water from filling that room. I was calling on God. He did it. It was a miracle.”(1) The memories of this miracle will never be forgotten by Okene. He made it through the deepest, darkest place in his life because of prayer. It was a miracle of God’s deliverance!
Please continue to pray and support MAA this school year. John 16: 24 remind us to, “Ask and ye shall receive.”
In Christian Service
The Mamertine Prison
During Paul’s imprisonment in Rome during Nero’s reign, Paul wrote 2 Timothy, the very same letter in your Bible. The first time Paul was imprisoned he was confined to house arrest, which would have been an honorable imprisonment, given to prisoners of high status or to citizens accused of non-serious crimes. But this time he was in a dungeon, where his friend Onesiphorus had to search “zealously” to even find him [2 Tim. 1:17] Many previous friends were ashamed of him and of his chains [v. 15], and no longer wished to be associate with him. [2 Timothy 1:15-18]
Indeed, it would be as if today someone were in jail plotting terrorism against the United States. Paul and all of Christianity were accused of sedition, being a cult that practiced cannibalism, sexual orgies, hatred of the humanity, and more. Since rumor and gossip stirred the populace, this untrue popular perception carried the day. When Christians were slandered, the majority of the people believed the gossip. We can see why believers were afraid to be associated with Paul and his ministry. People were also ashamed of Christ and of the Gospel, because of Paul's imprisonment. Many no longer wanted to be known as Christians for fear they might suffer the same treatment. They deserted him.
Paul wrote: “At my first defense no one took my part; all deserted me. May it not be charged against them!” (2 Timothy 4:16; see also vs. 9-13).
As I entered the prison for a tour, I saw a long list of Christian martyrs who died while locked up in that prison. Your can feel the unpleasantness in Pauls writings; “Do your best to come to me soon... When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments. (2 Timothy 4:9-13, RSV). After visiting Mamertine prison, I know why he asked for his coat. Paul was always cold and he was not young any more. He could never get warm in that damp cold, lonely dungeon.
And yet Pauls’s words are filled with hope and courage and warmth for the less than faithful Christian’s, even today. We should listen earnestly to his instructions for us today, because living the Christian life will likely become more difficult as the world continues to change its perception of Christ.
I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ,… Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season… For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine,… they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. 2 Timothy 4:1
The Ishtar Gate
The Museum is not large enough to house the entire gate of course, but it could only hold the smaller inner gate which you can see in the picture. Written in cuneiform characters we can read an inscription at the base of these walls written by Nebuchadnezzar. It says, "I laid the foundation of the gates down to the ground water level and had them built out of pure stone. Upon the walls in the inner room of the gate are bulls and dragons and thus I magnificently adorned them with luxurious splendor for all mankind to behold in awe."
You can hear the vanity and pride drip from King Nebuchadnezzar’s inscription. I find it more than interesting that King Nebuchnezzar left those gate to never return, long before Daniel did.
Daniel served three different nations inside those same walls; each nation held him as a respected leader, and kings honored him for his character, his work and faithfulness. Young Daniel made a decision to serve the God of heaven. Perhaps he made that decision as he walked between the Ishtar gates, perhaps he was still chained to other Hebrew prisoners torn from their destroyed Jerusalem and lost families. He decided to serve God no matter what the future held.
We too can give ourselves to God in the same way Daniel did, asking God to help us serve Him with faithfulness and integrity. He will save your life!
Daniel 2: 38-44 "...you (Nebuchadnezzar) are this head of gold. But after you shall arise another kingdom... the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever."
Deer Season Again
It is deer hunting season again in Kansas. I visited “Deer Camp” a number of years ago, where my friends would go to a remote cabin and hunt deer; somehow I passed by the rigid scrutiny that is required for entrance. I am quite sure now that “Deer Camp” has nothing to do with deer hunting, and everything to do with eating pies and telling tall stories. I may have lost my welcome for disclosing this information, but in the three years that I visited, they rarely told of a deer that was actually shot. As far as I can tell there are just rumors and unverified sightings of what a deer may look like. So I was thinking of those exaggerated tails from my “Deer Camp” friends when I came across Wayne’s true story.
Wayne found himself locked in a struggle with a beast! Wayne was at his daughter’s house and he heard glass breaking. He went back to check on the noise. That is when he found a five-point white tail deer jumping back and forth across the bed. If a buck sees his reflection in a window this time of year, he will often charge right through the window, believing the mirror image to be a rival. Wayne decided to take hold of this problem and came in behind the buck, straddled his back and grabbed his antlers. After about a 40-minute struggle, he broke the animal’s neck. He later dragged the dead animal out onto the front lawn. Wayne was sore from the struggle, but otherwise fine.
Much like Wayne’s fury friend, another white-tailed perpetrator broke into a nearby school. The students were just about to be dismissed for the day when he came through the window. But the principal didn’t wrestle with the beast; he simply opened the door and the creature bounded out after three minutes of floundering on the slick floors. The damage was small.
Three deer hunting stories, three different reactions. Consider with me what you would do...because we all have an animal raging about in our lives destroying and inflicting pain. Our animal is sin. Perhaps your sin is in the bedroom, perhaps it is in your mouth in the form of lies or gossip, or even what you eat or drink. It may be that your sin is in your mind or pulsating through your veins. Perhaps it is what you listen to or view. Whatever the case, we must notice the sin problem that has broken into our lives! It is destroying the pleasure that God has for us.
Revelation 3:20 NASB says: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.”
It is with the same door that we let Jesus in to our lives, that we let the raging beast out of our lives.
We are willing to go to extraordinary lengths to rid our homes of intruders, but are we willing to enter into the struggle for our own soul? We are called upon to strain every muscle and exercise every ounce of our being in the struggle for immortality; yet it is God that provides for our needs.
God is the strength of His people today. We are not to trust in governments, or to set men in the place of God. We are to remember that human beings are fallible and erring, and that Jesus has all the power to bring what is needed to our defense. In every emergency, the battle is His. His resources are limitless, and apparent impossibilities will make the victory all the greater.
Let your prayer be, "Take me, O Lord, as wholly Thine. I lay all my plans at Thy feet. Use me today in Thy service. Abide with me, and let all my work be wrought in Thee." The surrender of all our powers to God simplifies the problems in life. It weakens and cuts short a thousand problems and struggles that we face.
You know that struggling against evil is better than not entering into the hunt at all... But the best way of all is to open that door, invite Christ in, and the intrusion of sin will quickly find his own way out.
Storms and Highways
It was storm season on the plains of southwest Nebraska and northwest Kansas, and when I pulled out of the prison that night it was more than just normal hot weather.
On a regular occasion I visited the inmates at the nearby Norton Correctional Facility. We have a Bible study and singing with prayer and fellowship. It is something I have grown to enjoy. It’s fun seeing some change their lives and become leaders for Christ.
The guards there haven’t failed to release me from that barbed wire city, although some merely think they are letting me out for the weekend. And it is a bit embarrassing to hear my three-year-old question in a loud voice, “are you going to prison today Dad?” as he fingers my “get out of jail free” card mischievously.
One evening as I was leaving the facility, there were storm clouds building to the west and it looked pretty ominous. As I pulled out of the prison’s parking lot, I could see lighting coming from everywhere. I thought about the storm and the lightening, but I love storms and the power of them so I chose to take the short way home, right through it.
I did something unusual for me and that was to turn the radio on. I typically enjoy the quiet of my thoughts and the dull hum of the car, it helps me to clear my head and listen to the Lord. But this night was different, I thought I’d better try and find the weather forecast with this storm looming in front of me.
As I approach the storm, on the radio was an old folk tune that had a chorus that went something like, “this’ll be the day that I die.” (I found out later that that the song was by Don McLean, titled American Pie). So with that encouragement, I continued on down the road; lightning all around, rain just beginning to come down a little heavier, and the sky as dark as night with a full moon. There was an unusual amount of traffic moving in front of me (any traffic is unusual in western kansas), but they began to pull off the road. I was thankful for this because they were driving quite slowly.
I began waiting and wondering what these drivers were thinking about as they edged off the road and stopped. I looke over at them as I passed the first car, and then continued looking past them to finally see what they were so enthralled with.
There, about a quarter of a mile off the passenger side of the car, was a funnel of dirt reaching well into the clouds. The clouds happened to be circling above like a 747 waiting to land at the Denver airport. So with the radio singing “this’ll be the day that I die,” (incidentally the weather never did come on) and the rain pounding the car, dark clouds ahead, and certain destruction off the road; I CONTINUED ON THAT NARROW HIGHWAY towards home.
One brave soul in a truck forged the way as we opted for the “get out of Dodge” plan. With tempestuous winds rattling my car and threatening to sweep me into the ditch, I focus my eyes straight ahead. The car shimmies and shakes in the dirt-filled wind. The tornado didn’t come closer than the first fence row but the wind was terrible.
The Bible tells us that “the highway of the upright is to depart from evil: he that keepeth his way preserveth his soul.” Proverbs 16:17. We are all in a prison of sin and in need of a Saviour. But it takes more than a single experience with Jesus to preserve our soul. Every day we must travel on the Savior’s highway if we hope to arrive home safely. As Isaiah 11: 16 tells us, “there shall be an highway for the remnant of his people, which shall be left…”
How does a person stay on God’s highway when the world whirls recklessly about? We must travel with Jesus in His vehicle of salvation; we must learn to be like Christ. When we surrender our carnal thoughts, desires, feelings and opinions, that is when He can exchange them for the ideals of His loving government. Our selfish ambitions and evil desires must step aside if we are going to love the Lord with all our hearts and our neighbor as ourselves. That means when you notice the crowds stopping to witness the latest destructive thrill the world has to offer, you need to get going even if you are in the minority. “Above all,” it means “taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” Ephesians 6:16. We must shield ourselves in God’s Word. Having faith in God to believe He knows best and then acting on Christ’s counsel to us. This is the only way to remain faithful to Him and ourselves in this turbulent world.
“For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind…” Hosea 8:7.
But the righteous are those who are right with God, “As the whirlwind passeth, so is the wicked no more: but the righteous is an everlasting foundation” Proverbs 10:25. Do you desire to be a foundation rooted and grounded in Christ? Then no storm of life can harm you or alarm you.
In relating my storm experience I am struck with a sense of awe that God is willing to save. Hebrews 7:25 (NIV) “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”